Monthly Archives: September 2006

Kudos to Bill Clinton

I am not a “political blogger” in the sense that I regularly post about American politics, but I feel the need to get this off my chest. In regards to Bill Clinton’s interview on Fox News Sunday (hopefully people will keep posting the video on YouTube), I have to give the former POTUS a standing ovation. There have been people (such as Nora Ephron over at The Huffington Post) chastising Clinton for not playing nice, and the mainstream news media’s angle has been to characterize Clinton as “losing it” and being “combative.”

But seriously, weren’t all of us cheering as we listened to Clinton call out Fox News on their bullshit?? (Especially when he sarcastically remarked on Wallace’s smirk.) Wasn’t it refreshing to see a politician who built his career on being a centrist finally take the gloves off and give an honest, emotional response?

Some people have also dismissed the latter, saying that Clinton’s Fox News Sunday reaction was not spontaneous and was instead completely premeditated. I disagree–my personal read is that it was an impassioned response from a bracingly intelligent, albeit long-winded and ego-centric, man.

This is the same impression I had after reading Clinton’s bloated yet fascinating memoirs. He is a brilliant policy wonk who is also steadfastly in love with himself. If you’ll allow a little Myers-Briggs observation….I read Clinton as a definite “N” (Intuitive), and Intuitives routinely get accused by “S”‘s (Sensing) as being manipulative (ahem….speaking from personal experience) when in reality Intuitives are simply good at seeing the big picture and connecting with people. And that’s what Clinton was doing–looking at the whole story of what happened pre-9/11 and speaking fervently about what the left has been saying all along.

I don’t think this post necessarily adds anything to what’s already being said (there are nearly 500 comments on Ephron’s post, almost all lauding Clinton). And I realize I’m probably speaking to the choir here. Anyway, it’s been interesting for me to “re-discover” Clinton over the past two years. (I have very vague recollections of his administration, since he was President during the awkward years of my adolescence when I was more concerned about the politics between school cliques rather than the politics of government/media….)

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Moving: both blogs and apartments

Welcome to my new home at WordPress . . . . Due to many difficulties/frustrations at Blogger, I finally took the time this week to move. In the meantime, I’ve also been trying to unpack in my new apartment. Of course, organizing online is so much simpler and cleaner than organizing my real room. With the latter, I’ve managed to tackle my closet . . . and little else. 😛 Will I reach my goal of having my life in order by Wednesday (the first day of classes)? As my mom keeps asking me, “Did you get everything done?” Hmmm, “everything.” When does one ever finish doing “everything”?

I haven’t yet sorted all of my old posts into categories. Started doing that and only got about 10 posts in. Maybe that’ll be a project for a day when I want to procrastinate.

Anyway, hope you like the new place. You can see my non-virtual new place at our housewarming party next weekend, too.

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Kansas Again

Doing the two-step with my dad.

I know that I said I’d have all this time to be online while I was in Kansas City, and what happened instead is that I became a complete vegetable (as often happens at my parents’ house). Actually, this is the last evening that I’m here, but I wanted to write a quick post since I spent all afternoon wrestling with a new blog template. What do you think? I was on the verge of switching totally over to WordPress, but then I got frustrated by the widgets. Also, WordPress seemed to be moving at a snail’s pace today, making edits nearly impossible. I did import all of my Blogger archives, but was dismayed to see that photos I’d uploaded through Blogger (instead of Flickr) did not appear on the WordPress version. And apparently, you can’t edit WordPress templates with HTML (you have to use “CSS” and also pay an upgrade fee–whatever!). So I’m sticking with Blogger, even though I’m completely bored by the templates here. I think what I’ll do is bide my time until they fix more of the Blogger Beta bugs (that’s a tongue-twister) and then try that out.

 

Anyway, what a long and boring explanation of the new look here. But it’s September, which always means starting over for me in a sense. But this time around has been much smoother, given that my life in Seattle is much more set up for me than it was a year ago.

I spent most of my days last week in Seattle either sleeping or running one or two errands. Upon arriving in Kansas City, I’ve been doing the same, except even more sleeping and substituting running errands with eating. 🙂

The weather in Kansas City has been absolutely beautiful, and it’s been wonderful catching up with B., S.C.H., and Kat. I couldn’t believe that B. actually drove down from Omaha on Friday night just to visit for the evening! We started looking through my old photo albums from Creighton, and the amount of people whose names we’d forgotten was staggering. In particular, there was this girl with curly brown hair who seemed to be in every photo over a chunk of senior year, and B. and I had no clue what her name was. Senility begins to set in.

I bought a baby 한복 (hanbok) for S.C.H.’s forthcoming baby girl . . . I should’ve taken a picture. It’s sooooo cute! She’s supposed to wear it on her 100-day celebration. It came with a little pink hat and a little pink purse . . . please pardon my gushing. Anyway, S.C.H.–it was so great to see you, as always, and here’s a link that describes more about the birthday celebration.

Kat, it was also great visiting with you. That 10-year reunion is a little too close for comfort, isn’t it? Even though E.McB. wasn’t at Borders, it was still fun perusing the shelves with someone who actually reads literature. Keep me updated with your new reads, and of course, the bun in your oven. (Btw, my friend, S.C.H., said she knows someone giving free pregnancy massages–are you interested?)

Spending time with the ‘rents has been refreshingly low-stress. Granted, I’m awake during odd hours (noon-4 a.m. usually) which means that our interaction is limited to afternoons/evenings. But it’s nice to see them fully engaged in their community, with my mom on the board of directors of the neighborhood and my dad in the process of writing his second community musical (as I’ve said before, my parents are living representations of all of Christopher Guest’s mock-umentaries).

The upcoming 12 months are going to be insanely busy. My e-mail inbox is overflowing with AAAW and IKAA business. But I’m looking forward to it . . . .

On a completely unrelated note, I’m rooting for Michael in the Project Runway finale. Love it, love it.

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Interview in G.O.A.’L Newsletter

The following is an interview that should appear in the next issue of the G.O.A.’L newsletter, The OAK. Describes more fully my internship.
~~~~~~~~~~

Kelli: How was your overall experience being an intern at GOA’L this summer? Could you share with us what it was like being a summer intern at GOA’L?

Sarah: I had a fantastic experience working as an intern for GOA’L this summer! I worked Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm, during the same hours that the office is open to the public. Once a week, I had a meeting with my supervisor, Nicole Sheppard (GOA’L Vice-Secretary-General). Much of my day was spent on the computer, working on various projects (mainly a handbook for GOA’L employees). However, I also got the chance to meet and interact with a number of adoptees that came into the office. It was an incredibly busy summer for GOA’L (July and August averaged around 150 visitors per month). When the other staff members were busy, I usually answered basic questions such as how to apply for the F4 visa, gave directions to KoRoot, etc., to visitors.

Kelli: As an intern, what were some of your duties?

Sarah: My main project was working on a GOA’L staff handbook for current and future employees of GOA’L. The handbook describes the organizational structure, services & programs, administration and regulations of GOA’L. In order to write this major document, I had to interview each of the staff members several times. The handbook is designed for internal use only, but hopefully it will provide enough institutional memory so that as GOA’L continues to grow and change, the staff will be able to have actual documentation of its evolution. Also, the document I created this summer is Version 1.0, which can be updated (hopefully annually) in the future.

In addition to the handbook, I created evaluations for the GOA’L Conference and also compiled the information from the evaluations in a report. I also did some work for IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Associations) at the G.O.A.’L office in preparation for the Gathering in 2007.

Kelli: What was your purpose for doing an internship with a non-profit origanization, especially for GOA’L? How did you become involved with GOA’L? Was it an easy process to find an internship?

Sarah: I am currently in the middle of studying for my M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration) through the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington (located in Seattle). One of the requirements for graduation is the completion of at least 400 hours in an internship where we can apply the analytical and managerial skills we acquire in our school program. Since I am on the Board of Directors of Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (AAAW), I have some experience working with grassroots Korean adoptee organizations. I chose to work with GOA’L for my internship because while I was living in Korea (2004-2005), I learned about GOA’L and met Dae Won and Nicole. During that time, I attended some GOA’L events such as the General Meeting, Christmas party and discussion forums. I want to support GOA’L because it was founded by adoptees, for adoptees. I also want to support GOA’L (along with AAAW) as a fellow IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Associations) member organization.

I knew that I wanted to work with GOA’L for my internship as early as autumn of 2005. Initially, I contacted Dae-won (GOA’L Secretary-General) about the possibility of working for GOA’L, and then he connected me with Nicole, who ended up being my internship site supervisor.

Kelli: What did you learn most from being an intern at GOA’L?

Sarah: I learned a lot of the intimate details of how GOA’L functions as an organization. As a small, nonprofit organization, GOA’L faces many obstacles in terms of capacity and fundraising, but they are still able to accomplish a great deal by helping many, many adoptees and their families.

Kelli: Is there any advice or tips you’d like to offer to adoptees who are interested in possibly doing an internship for GOA’L in the future?

Sarah: I would encourage any adoptee who is interested in interning for GOA’L to contact Nicole and Dae-won. They are really committed to developing future leaders in the adoptee community and are great mentors. The two of them have a staggering amount of connections and experience.

Kelli: What are some of the advantages or benefits of interning for GOAL? Didn’t it hurt you financially since it was a non-paid internship? How can one manage to work full-time as an intern without any financial assistance?

Sarah: By interning at GOA’L, you are able to support one of the pioneering organizations in the Korean adult adoptee community. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to network with adoptees from all over the world.

Unfortunately, my internship was unpaid, but GOA’L was able to provide me with lunch each day. Luckily, I was awarded a fellowship from my university in order to help cover my costs during my internship this summer. If not for this fellowship, it would’ve been very difficult for me. Although there was little financial reward from my internship, the other benefits more than made up for it. I would encourage anyone who is interested to try their best to find external funding sources for the internship (although it’s possible that GOA’L may be able to provide a small stipend one day in the future).

Kelli: Would you like to say anything more about your internship experience or say anything to anyone before we finish this interview?
Sarah: This was a great experience! It’s really solidified my commitment to the Korean adoptee community, and I hope to be able to better communicate what GOA’L is to other adoptees. I want to thank all of the GOA’L staff for being so supportive and welcoming this summer. Thanks to Dae-won, Nicole, Jin-kyung, Hoya, Joo-yeon, Felix, Eva, and JohnI’ll miss you! See you next summer for the Gathering!

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Article: Suspension of Intercountry Adoptions from South Korea

Did anyone see this article yet? It’s from an Australian newspaper. Of course, it’s coming from the a-parent side. Has anyone seen news of this reported in the American media yet?

(And Ji-in & Jae Ran–I’ll be listening to the podcast soon, assuming iTunes has it up later tonight or early tomorrow….)

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Where did the summer go??

My last few weeks in Korea were wonderful . . . quality time spent with family and friends. I was still very busy, but the insanity of mid-August was gone, thank goodness. Over the first weekend in September, I went down to Suji to visit my family. I made my first trip to a 찜질방 (jimjilbang)! Although upon entering the jimjilbang, I realized that I’d essentially already had a jimjilbang experience when I went to Olympus Spa in Lynnwood, WA last fall. (See my November 13, 2005 post–“Nude Girlfriend Bonding.” I can’t figure out how to link to archived posts. Yet another reason to switch to WordPress.) Basically, a jimjilbang is a large spa with several rooms. You can bathe in various pools, get a massage, sweat it out in dry or wet saunas, watch movies, and eat yummy Korean food. It was a strange experience showering with some of the female members of my family (my two sisters, grandmother, aunt, and cousin), but it was a pleasant alternative to the usual non-verbal activities we engage in together (eating, watching DVDs, eating).

찜질방
Exterior of the 찜질방 in 수지.

I just finished uploading photos from my last week onto Flickr . . . . It was a great weekend. Friday: dinner at Le Petit Paris (a French restaurant in 신촌 owned and operated by two French Korean Adoptees), drinks at Ho Bar (no, it’s not like Hooters. Just a poorly-named drinking establishment.), and then dancing at both QVo (hip-hop) and M2 (techno). Actually, I think T.T.Y. and I were the only ones who did both clubs (the others wisely stuck to just QVo). Fitting, since only he and I were excited about running back and forth that evening. I’ll miss you, T.T.Y., you crazy Dane! Please be good to S., she’s a nice girl. 🙂 And update your blog, mister, if you ever read this.

나이쓰 Hair
Ni-suh hair!

Saturday ended up being an exact replica of my going-away bash a year ago . . . . samgyeopsal for dinner, drinks at The Lounge, dancing at S-Club. Cheesy as it may sound, The Lounge used to be like the Korean adoptee “Cheers” in Seoul (where everybody knows your name, blahblahblah), but people stopped going there this year. The owner ended up selling the bar, however, and Saturday turned out to be not only my last night but The Lounge’s last night, too. During its two years of existence, Santoki et al. provided much of The Lounge’s business. It’s like the end of an era this summer, because not only did The Lounge shut its doors, but my hairdresser at Juno Hair in Ewha is moving to Australia!!! 😦 I’ve been going to see her since my first trip to Korea in 2001. Ah, B. & N.–what are we going to do??

Last Night
Half of our group on Saturday night.

When I left Korea in 2005, I was a blubbery mess the week prior to leaving and the months following my exit. This time was significantly less dramatic, because I was only there this time for three months, and I’m getting used to going back and forth (Seattle . . . Seoul . . . Seattle . . .). However, as I was hugging people goodbye at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning before heading back to KoRoot to nap/pack, I did get a little misty. The solidarity I feel with my adoptee friends in Seoul (both old and new friends) is unlike anything else. Other adoptee events (culture camps, mini-gatherings, etc.) come close to replicating the Seoul solidarity, but it’s different. There is something about living and working in the motherland with people who not only share your experience but also share a passion for exploring Korean culture and adoptee culture that creates something . . . special. I miss it already.

(Want to write a KoRoot-related post sometime in the next few weeks. KoRoot: another intrinsic part of the Seoul experience for me.)

I feel a bit at a loss to fully describe what this summer meant to me. For me, it was not about a Korea-immersion, it was a Korean-adoptee-immersion. Working at G.O.A.’L, living at KoRoot . . . . The Korean adoptee community was everything to me this summer: work life, home life, social life. For as intense as that may sound, there were only a handful of moments this summer where I felt like the adoptee-ness was too much. I keep wondering if the day will come when I “burn out” on adoptees. Day hasn’t come yet.

I do, however, need a break from Korea. I love Korea (especially its films . . . definitely the coolest, hippest part of Korean culture. Aside from the SJ B-Boys–ow!!), but Korea also makes me tired. At this point, I feel that I will never become fluent in the language unless 1) I live for two years in a city outside Seoul; 2) I live with my Korean relatives; 3) I take an intensive language course in Seoul where I study Korean 5 hours/day. All of these options would mean that I would have to spend less time with adoptees and more time with Korean-Koreans, and for me, the trade-off is not worth it. I do want to be able to more fully communicate with my family, but I don’t wish to assimilate into Korean society. I still plan on taking 2nd-year Korean at the UW this year, but I’m going to stop feeling guilty about not speaking perfect Korean. Easier said than done!

So I’m completely not on a good sleeping schedule. After I arrived on Sunday, I slept for 16 hours straight. Last night, I only slept for 4 hours. My eyes popped open at 8 a.m. and I could not force myself back to unconsciousness. It is now almost 2:30 a.m., and I’m wide awake, due to a mid-afternoon nap. Who knows what going to Kansas City will do for me . . . .

Yup, going to Kansas City for a week: September 14-20. Time to visit all of my pregnant friends. 🙂 Classes do not start until September 27th. So I will have lots of time to unpack in my new apartment I share with my Evans classmate. Although I’m taking my sweet time . . . having lots of unstructured time always means strange schedules for me.

Major accomplishments today:
1. Called SoniCare to request a new battery charger (what a rip-off of a toothbrush).
2. Drove all over Shoreline searching for a Korean-style laundry rack, but ended up finding one at Fred Meyer.
3. Did four loads of laundry at a laundromat next to our new apt.
4. Uploaded my pics.
5. Blogged.

Not bad . . . . still searching for my copy of American Knees, however, in my overflowing suitcase. 😉

So I’m feeling surprisingly normal. Nice to spend September off of work, off of school, in my various homes—서울 (Seoul), Seattle, Kansas City.

Incheon Airport
With my uncle and his wife. (While sitting with them and and my sisters at the airport, I had one of those moments where I realized, “Hey. They’re Korean. I’m Korean. We match. Woah.” Gotta get ready for Kansas City re-entry…..)

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Last week in Korea

Thank you to everyone for all the positive, supportive responses to my last post. It kind of took a lot out of me, hence the blogging absence. Also, however, it’s my last week in Korea, and I’m running around like a headless chicken, etc.

I had a great time with my family last weekend, and this week I’m tying up a lot of loose ends and seeing people. Today, I went into the G.O.A.’L office again to drop off a gift and also do some IKAA-related things. Still at the computer finishing things I was hoping to complete this afternoon….

I return to Seattle on Sunday, September 10th (so weird–I leave Seoul on Sunday at 6:20 p.m. and arrive in Seattle on the same day at noon). I’ll have a few days to unpack in my new abode with CC, and then I’ll be off to Kansas City for some quality time with the a-parents. Classes start Sept. 27.

I should have LOTS of time in Kansas City to be online (everyone I know there goes to bed before 11 p.m.), so there should be blog updates then.

Until then, time to savor and enjoy 서울……

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